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Shellfish harvesting closed for west side of Bainbridge Island

The Washington State Department of Health and the Kitsap Public Health District have closed waters to shellfish harvesting on the west shoreline of Bainbridge Island from the Agate Pass Bridge south to Point White after finding marine biotoxins in shellfish samples at the Brownsville Marina.

The closure includes all bays and inlets on the west side of Bainbridge, and on the other side of Port Orchard Narrows, includes the east shoreline from Illahee State Park north to the Agate Pass Bridge.

The shellfish harvesting ban covers all species of clams, oysters and mussels.

State officials said that samples of mussels collected on Dec. 9 from the Brownsville Marina contained DSP toxin concentrations of 17.5 micrograms per 100 grams of shellfish tissue. Shorelines are closed to shellfish harvesting when toxin levels exceed 16 micrograms per 100 grams of tissue.

Officials also noted that the existing biotoxin closure for butter clams and varnish clams remains in effect on Kitsap County’s eastern shoreline from the Point No Point in Hansville south to the Pierce County line including all shorelines on Bainbridge Island and Blake Island.

Warning signs have been posted at public beaches to warn people against collecting shellfish from the closure areas.

Shrimp and crab are not included in this closure, officials said, but crabs should be cleaned prior to cooking, and the “crab butter” should be discarded. Shellfish harvested commercially that are available in stores and restaurants are tested for toxins prior to distribution, and are safe to eat.

The marine biotoxins that were found can cause diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, or DSP, and the biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing and can be life-threatening. DSP symptoms can begin from 30 minutes to 12 hours after eating contaminated shellfish causing nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea, with diarrhea being the most commonly reported symptom. Most symptoms subside within 72 hours.

Officials said that in most cases, the algae that contain the toxins cannot be seen and must be detected with laboratory tests.

Kitsap Public Health will continue to monitor shellfish at Kitsap County beaches, and notify the public if the levels of PSP toxin become unsafe in other areas.

For current shellfish closures within Kitsap County, call the hotline at 1-800-2BE-WELL, or visit www.kitsappublichealth.org.

For closures in other areas of Washington, call the Washington State Department of Health’s Shellfish Safety Hot Line at 1-800-562-5632, or visit www.doh.wa.gov.

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